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HBCU Education

Chance the Rapper, Chadwick Boseman are among impressive list of HBCU graduation speakers

Others include April Ryan, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Tom Joyner, Andrew Young and Angela Rye

Graduations at America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are underway, with most of them running from this weekend through the end of May.

The headliner is Howard University graduate Chadwick Boseman, who will deliver the commencement address Saturday at his alma mater. The Black Panther star will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

“I’m excited to return to The Mecca in celebration of the achievements of our illustrious students,” Boseman said in announcing the keynote address. “Let’s listen, learn and build with one another.”

Graduates at Dillard University in New Orleans are looking forward to what Grammy Award-winning artist Chance the Rapper has to say (or rap) on Saturday. Chance, who has stated an interest in HBCUs, is known for his philanthropy and love for his hometown, Chicago.

“The activism is a bonus with Chance,” said Dillard president Walter Kimbrough. “I thought he made for a great commencement speaker because of his spirit of being entrepreneurial and authentic. But his civic engagement, including encouraging people to vote, and willingness to speak out on issues, like his recent opposition to a Heineken ad, are just as paramount.”

Two graduation speakers, April Ryan and William Pickard, are doing double duty this graduation season. Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, spoke at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 5 and will be Claflin College’s speaker Saturday in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Pickard, CEO of Regal Plastics and a McDonald’s franchisee, gave back-to-back commencement addresses on May 5 at Stillman College and on May 6 at Talladega College, both in Alabama.

Tom Joyner, the radio host and HBCU advocate and philanthropist, is the speaker at three graduations, including two on the same day: On April 28, he spoke at Concordia College in Alabama. On May 19, he’s scheduled to deliver the address at Morgan State’s commencement at 10 a.m. in Baltimore and speak at Morris Brown College in Atlanta at 4 p.m.

Here is the list of commencement speakers. (Some schools didn’t respond to questions or haven’t announced who their speakers will be.)

School Date Speaker
Alabama A&M University May 4 State Rep. Anthony Daniels
Alabama State University May 12 Duncan Kirkwood
Albany State University May 5 Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, Ken Boler
Alcorn State University May 5 Christy Pickering
Allen University May 12 Joan Robinson Berry
American Baptist College May 17 Rev. James A. Forbes Jr.
Arkansas Baptist College April 28 Barrett Hatches
Benedict College May 12 Shaun King
Bennett College May 5 April Ryan
Bethune-Cookman University May 5 U.S. Rep. Val Demings, Henry Thomas
Bishop State Community College May 10 Jill Biden
Bluefield State College May 12 Angelo Taylor Smothers
Bowie State University May 22 Eunique Jones Gibson
Central State University May 5 Malik Perkins
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania May 12 Irvin Clark
Claflin University May 12 April Ryan
Clark Atlanta University May 21 Don Lemon
Clinton College May 4 Rev. Reginald Sharpe
Coahoma Community College May 12 Constance Harvey
Concordia College – Alabama April 28 Tom Joyner
Coppin State University May 19 Stedman Graham
Delaware State University May 12 James McBride
Denmark Technical College May 4 Tim Hardee
Dillard University May 12 Chance the Rapper
Edward Waters College May 5 Herman J. Felton Jr.
Elizabeth City State University May 12 Margaret Spellings
Fayetteville State University May 12 U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield
Fisk University May 7 Andrew Young
Florida A&M University May 4 Robert “Rob” Hardy Jr.
Florida Memorial University May 12 Keisha Lance Bottoms
Fort Valley State University May 12 Tyrone Poole
Gadsden State Community College May 10 Students Logan Davis, Katie Finlayson, Antwon Hoyt
Grambling State University May 11 Cynthia Marshall
H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College May 11 Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington
Hampton University May 13 Ruth E. Carter
Harris-Stowe State University May 12 Vivica A. Fox
Howard University May 12 Chadwick Boseman
Huston-Tillotson University May 5 Michael T. Gibson
Interdenominational Theological Center May 10 Rev. Mark A. Lomax
J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College May 11 Andrew Hugine Jr.
Jackson State University April 28 Chokwe Lumumba
Jarvis Christian College May 5 Jesse J. Holland
Johnson C. Smith University May 20 Marc Morial
Kentucky State University May 12 Randal Pinkett
Lane College April 28 Van Jones
Langston University May 12 Thomas Henderson
Lawson State Community College – Birmingham Campus May 12 Randall Woodfin
Le Moyne-Owen College May 12 Jesse J. Holland
Lincoln University – Missouri May 12 Steve Pemberton
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania May 6 U.S. Rep. Alma S. Adams
Livingstone College May 4 State Sen. Dan T. Blue
Meharry Medical College May 19 Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams
Miles College May 6 Mae C. Jemison
Mississippi Valley State University May 5 Sean Suggs
Morehouse College May 20 U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr.
Morehouse School of Medicine May 19 Dayna Matthew
Morgan State University May 19 Tom Joyner
Morris Brown College May 19 Tom Joyner
Norfolk State University May 5 Va. Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax
North Carolina A&T State University May 12 State Sen. Joel Ford
North Carolina Central University May 12 Bakari Sellers
Oakwood University May 12 Darryl Bell
Paine College May 6 Michael Lucius Lomax
Paul Quinn College May 5 Harry LaRosiliere
Philander Smith College May 5 Sophia A. Nelson
Prairie View A & M University May 12 Lonnie Bunch III
Rust College April 29 Ruth Simmons
Saint Augustine’s University May 12 William H. Wright II
Savannah State University May 5 Marion Orr
Selma University May 11 Milton Safford
Shaw University May 12 Bakari Sellers
Shelton State Community College May 4 Bill Ashley
Shorter College May 4 Scott Preston
Simmons College – Kentucky May 20 Sadiqa Reynolds
South Carolina State University May 11 Dorothea “Dee” Dawkins-Haigler
Southern University and A&M College May 11 Angela Rye
Southern University at New Orleans May 12 Antonio “Tony” Clayton
Southern University at Shreveport May 15 Patricia Russell-McCloud
Southwestern Christian College May 12 Stanley Tolbert
Spelman College May 20 Rosalind Brewer
St. Philip’s College May 11 Renee Flores
Stillman College May 5 William F. Pickard
Talladega College May 6 William F. Pickard
Tennessee State University May 5 Eric Thomas, Keisha Bottoms
Texas College May 5 Kevin W. Williams
Texas Southern University May 12 Roland Martin
Tougaloo College May 6 Derrick Johnson
Tuskegee University May 12 Baron M. Witherspoon Sr.
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff May 12 Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore May 25 Calvin G. Butler
University of the District of Columbia May 12 Harry E. Johnson Sr.
University of the Virgin Islands May 17, May 18 Danny Glover
Virginia State University May 13 U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax
Virginia Union University May 12 Keshia Knight Pulliam
Virginia University of Lynchburg May 5 Kym Whitley
Voorhees College May 5 Sheryl Underwood
West Virginia State University May 12 William Theodore “Ted” McDaniel Jr.
Wilberforce University May 5 Benjamin L. Crump
Wiley College May 5 David L. Beckley
Winston-Salem State University May 18 Byron Pitts
Xavier University of Louisiana May 12 Nikole Hannah-Jones